three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
24-Sept-Oct-2006
user_rating: 
0

A-KillerInstinctTo the chagrin of his materialistic wife, Jason Steadman, a 30-something successful businessman at Boston’s Entronics, lacks the killer instinct. He’s a nice guy who listens to motivational tapes in his car every day but not nearly ambitious enough to rise to the top of the company. A minor car accident changes his life. Kurt Semco, a dishonorably discharged Special Forces vet, tows his car out of a ditch, and the two become fast friends. When Steadman recommends Semco for a job at Entronics, Steadman’s career takes off. But as Steadman’s rivals begin to die, he starts to understand the true meaning of "killer instinct."
St. Martin’s Press. 416 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0312347472

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"Killer Instinct is a superb story that dazzles with its heart-pounding suspense, even while posing deeper questions about the ethics of business and what we’re willing to do to get ahead." David J. Montgomery

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Killer Instinct moves at such a brisk pace that the more than 400 pages zoom by. … With an economy of scenes and realistic dialogue, Finder sculpts believable characters and avoids stereotypes." Oline H. Cogdill

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 3.5 of 5 Stars
"I can’t say this is my favorite of Finder’s fine novels because, despite some interesting twists, it’s perhaps the most predictable. That said, it remains a first-rate thrill ride, punctuated with the kind of character development most authors shun." Allan Walton

Wall Street Journal 3.5 of 5 Stars
"So a climb up the corporate ladder inadvertently takes a little too much inspiration from Old Blood and Guts, making suspenseful fun of the absurd but commonly held notion that the office is a battlefield and should be approached in military terms. … But Mr. Finder’s premise, of imagining overcaffeinated executives like Jason Steadman storming the corner office as if it were Fallujah, is rich territory." Richard Turner

USA Today 3 of 5 Stars
"The best part of Killer Instinct emerges from Finder’s ability to convey how much rejection salespeople get and how they must continually pump themselves up to stay positive and close the deal. Unfortunately, Killer Instinct lacks the intricate plotting of the earlier books." Deirdre Donahue

Critical Summary

Both Paranoia (2003) and Company Man (2005) captured the power plays implicit in the business world and put Joseph Finder at the top of the corporate thriller game. Killer Instinct doesn’t disappoint. Finder, who convincingly portrays how salesmen close the deal in a cutthroat environment, focuses on character development: Steadman’s wife, for example, is no Lady Macbeth but an empathetic character. Although the plot never suffers, a few reviewers called it more predictable and less intricately conceived than those of Finder’s other books. Despite this criticism, Killer Instinct shows that "political thrillers and spy novels are tame compared to what goes on in the cubicles and offices" (South Florida Sun-Sentinel).